Pigneto: Discovering New Neighborhoods in Rome

My last post was filled with all our Roman woes, but I’m happy to say they didn’t take up the majority of our trip. Knowing Rome wasn’t going to be Chandler’s favorite city this summer, we were determined to spend some time off the tourist track exploring places we hadn’t heard of before.

We started in Pigneto. We were on Airbnb, searching for somewhere to stay and I came across this Vanity Fair article, describing Pigneto as Rome’s Brooklyn. A place with great nightlife, a cool cafe culture, and more Italian than English spoken seemed right up our alley. We found a nice one-bedroom apartment for rent right on Via del Pigneto.

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While there may not have been a lot to do in Pigneto during the day, it was an amazing place to escape to at night. Most evenings you could find us sampling some new wines at any of the various bars along Via del Pigneto and then roaming the neighborhood for a new restaurant to try.

During the day, we did more roaming – which actually happens to be my favorite pastime in Rome.

Before arriving, we had researched little known places in the city and Piramide Cestia kept coming up. Having been to Rome twice, I was surprised to find the city had its own pyramid. I was even more surprised to find out that it was located next to the Piramide Metro stop. A name I had never even stopped to consider before and a stop that I had taken on my way to the beach many times.

Piramide Cestia was one of our longer walks in Rome. There didn’t seem to be a convenient way to get to it from Pigneto. We took the bus into the city, got off at the Colosseum, and waited over 30 minutes for a bus that just decided not to come. At one point, we thought about just skipping the sight all-together, but in the end, we decided it was worth the effort to walk to something new.

So we hiked past the tour buses and tourists walking around with their selfie sticks and found ourselves in residential Rome. We walked past uncrowded cafes, secluded parks, and men breaking for lunch under the shade of oversized statues:

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We made it to the pyramid, no pomp & circumstance required, and walked around the entire structure to find a small gate opening into a cemetery. What we had failed to notice in our research is that the pyramid isn’t a stand-alone structure. The pyramid, a tomb for Caius Cestius, a Roman magistrate and member of a college of priests, was built between 18 and 12 BCE. The area around it houses other graves and mausoleums.

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Not usually one to be found around the morbid or macabre, I was struck, not only by the calmness of the cemetery, but also by its beauty and light.

We were soon to find that the cemetery housed people more famous to us than Caius Cestius.

First on the list was Percy Bysshe Shelley, an English Romantic poet, and husband to Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein:

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We also happened upon what might be one of my new favorite statues. A weeping angel, built for a woman whose name I’ve already forgotten:

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Around the bend and in view of the pyramid stands the cemetery’s most famous inhabitant, listed only as a “Young English Poet” on his gravestone. His friend, painter Joseph Severn, listed his name on his own gravestone: John Keats.

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Museum + Cheese = Our Final Day In Paris

Once again wanting to get the most out of our time in Paris (can you sense a reoccurring theme here?), we were up bright at early. Not quite as bright and early as the previous day (since we were aware nothing would be open), we arrived at Le Pain Quotidien at 8 am for breakfast. Why this place doesn’t have rave reviews baffles me, it’s the best breakfast place I’ve seen in Paris!

Then we were off to the Louvre. I know I said in my last post that I prefer the Musée d’Orsay, but that doesn’t mean I’m not still blown away by the Louvre.

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I can stare at statures for days (in fact I have a couple on my list to check out in Rome next week at Villa Borghese). My favorite Louvre statue is Amor and Psyche by Antonio Canova. I can’t get over how tenderly the lovers hold each other. I think about seven minutes into my stare-a-thon, Chandler pulled me away so we could look at other things. Don’t worry, I returned numerous times throughout the day!

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We also made our way to another favorite of mine (and everyone else’s) the Winged Victory of Samothrace. Despite having seen this statue before, I didn’t quite realize how old it was. Constructed around the 2nd century BC it’s not surprising that she’s headless and armless. However, there’s still so much beauty in what’s left.

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Not nearly done with my statue quota for the day we meandered over to the French galleries. Many of the pieces are more modern recreations of Italian styles and they don’t quite impress me as much, but the lighting and design of the space is spectacular.

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At this point, however, Chandler needed a break from my statues. And luckily, the Islamic Art gallery had opened. This addition didn’t exist during my last visit in 2010, and it is an incredible inclusion to the museum. Plus, for whatever reason, the gallery was nearly empty of visitors.

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